Ahna Machan
Executive Director

Ahna brings over 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience with local, national and international organizations and an expertise in development. She has a passion for empowering people to live vibrant, independent lives as they age and an interest in virtual village communities. Ahna has a Master’s degree in Whole Systems Design and a Diploma of Competency in Systems Renewal from Antioch University in Seattle, Washington. Ahna also is a coach, certified mediator, arbitrator, facilitator and yoga teacher. She loves to experiment with Ayurveda cooking and resides in Edmonds with her husband. Together, they enjoy hiking, musical events and trying to play four hands on the piano.

chris-picture-websiteChris Alin
Director of Programs and Membership

Born and raised in the Emerald City, Chris is a true Seattleite – a rarity these days. A graduate of the University of Washington, Chris has a wealth of experience in coordinating, planning, and managing people and programs throughout diverse fields, most recently her passion working with elders in the senior living industry. In her spare time, you will find Chris being a busy mom to two active boys and a crazy sweet dog. She enjoys health and fitness, cooking and spending quality time with her family in Wallingford.

Rachel PendragonRachel Pendragon
Communications & Development Manager

Originally hailing from the East Coast, Rachel moved to Seattle in 2014. As NEST’s Communications & Development Manager, she puts her talents to work keeping members of the NEST community up-to-date through newsletters, mailings, social media, and the website, and fundraising to support NEST’s programs. Rachel plays rugby for the Emerald City Mudhens (current PNW champs!) and volunteers at the King County Jail tutoring inmates to earn their GED. The way to her heart is lined with cute dogs and good pizza.




Board of Directors


Don DesonierDon Desonier
Board President

Don provides individual coaching, along with family facilitation services, to caregivers and families of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. His journey to this professional calling and passion for this work is rooted in having been a caregiver to his wife Nancy, who was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2008, and passed away from this illness in 2012.

Don has a Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education Program. He also has a Juris Doctor degree, and has been trained as an Elder and Adult Family Mediator. Don, who is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®, is passionate in supporting NEST in its efforts in transforming and enriching the lives of older adults by providing them choices for staying active, independent, engaged and connected. He is thrilled and humbled to be NEST’s current Board President.

Marilyn SpotswoodMarilyn Spotswood
Board Vice President
Marilyn has over 20 years of experience in healthcare services, with a particular focus on collaborative models of care targeted to older adults. She has a MSW and a PhD in Health Services Research. Marilyn worked with the Virginia Long-Term Care Council on the design and implementation of a statewide case management program. She conducted research and managed practice sites for the Geriatric Evaluation and Management Program at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Marilyn also worked for many years as a project manager in the software industry. While staying at home to raise her two kids, she devoted herself to volunteering at her kids’ schools and with older adults in the community. She is thrilled to be part of the Board and hopes to use her research and project management skills to support NEST as it continues to grow. Marilyn and her family have lived in Ravenna for 15 years.

Max WellsMax Wells
Board Secretary
Max is an entrepreneur and product manager with a flair for anticipating market trends. Max values optimizing processes, fostering creativity, and launching products.  He is expert at learning new products, industries, and the businesses that support them. Additionally, as an accomplished researcher and writer, Max distills complex subjects into simple, engaging messaging. He is a creative communicator and presenter, able to establish rapport with individuals and groups at all organizational levels.

Michael SchaedigMichael Schaedig
Board Treasurer
A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest (and current resident of the Ravenna/Maple Leaf neighborhood), Michael has spent his career in the Senior Housing industry. With the vast majority of people aging in their own homes, and strongly expressing a desire to stay there, Michael believes that initiatives like NEST are a vitally important way to expand the reach of services to those that might otherwise remain isolated in their homes. Providing a strong social and service network has benefits that go far beyond the health and wellness of individuals and serve to enrich the entire community in which we live. Serving the community in which he lives, and helping shape how these services are identified and delivered is something that holds great interest for Michael, and is just one of the reasons he’s delighted to be a part of the NEST board.

Rosemary BlakemoreRosemary Blakemore
Rosemary has been an active participant in NEST since its founding. With a background in social work, Rosemary most recently as Director of Resident Relations at the Kenney Continuing Care Retirement Community, where among other programs she created a “positive aging” series that won a Best Practices Award from the American Society on Aging. She has also been a medical social worker, community home health coordinator, and a caseworker for the state. She has lived in the same Viewridge home for almost 42 years, and is active at University Christian Church where she has been a member since 1957. Rosemary was recently widowed after a 41-year marriage. She enjoys spending time with her 4 step-children, 6 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.

Steve CampSteve Camp
Steve is a NEST member, and most recently very actively engaged in the search for a new home for NEST. He has lived much of his life in Northeast Seattle, attending Eckstein Middle School and Roosevelt High School, and living the last 30 years with his wife Georgene in Laurelhurst. Steve was a Sales Executive with the Seattle Mariners prior to retirement.


Elise ErnstElise Ernst
Elise has worked as a schoolteacher, clinical social worker, and healthcare administrator for the past 50+ years. She recently retired after serving for 12 years as Vice President of Practice Management at The Polyclinic. During that time, she learned an immense amount about healthcare for seniors, namely what it takes from both patients and providers for the partnership to be successful. She also lead initiatives to improve efficiencies in healthcare, along with starting a Behavioral Health Department that is thriving today. Seniors made up a large number of patients referred by their providers for help coping with loneliness and depression.

In 2014, Elise’s mother died at age 97, after struggling with dementia and living in assisted living in Arizona for over 3 years. During that time she saw firsthand the toll that not being able to live at home takes on all involved, and she hopes to be able to bring that experience to NEST. She’s excited to be able to contribute to a nonprofit organization that is still growing and learning how to serve their community of senior citizens. She has served on several other boards in the past, including The Gage Art Academy.

Elise lives with her husband of 35 years, Mike Smith (a retired advocacy attorney for people with disabilities), in a houseboat on Lake Union. Their son, David Smith, grew up loving the water as well. He is a competitive rower and made the US Team 5 times, and he is currently starting a new career of being a full-time watercolor artist. Elise loves to row, cross-country ski, play piano, and quilt. She is learning how to play bridge, which is quite the challenge.

Tom GaskinsTom Gaskins
Tom is a NEST volunteer with a strong commitment to NEST’s mission of helping people stay independent, active and connected. He recently retired from a career leading software engineering teams to create scientific visualization products for use in government, industry, and education. With every volunteer opportunity, Tom experiences first-hand the benefits NEST provides to the community and the sincere appreciation of the members NEST serves. As Tom says, “It’s a real joy to work with NEST members and staff.” Tom has three daughters and two granddaughters, all of whom live in or near Seattle.

Marilyn LaytonMarilyn Layton
For 40 years until her retirement in December 2008, Marilyn taught writing and literature in the Humanities Division at North Seattle College as well as integrated studies classes based on the model of Evergreen College. She continues to serve the college as an executive board member of the Education Fund. As an active faculty member, she authored three books, a number of articles, and presented workshops on many topics at conferences around the country, as well as teaching for short periods in India and Argentina. She has participated in photography and art shows, and some of her paintings still hang at the college.

Years immersed in a natural history class with science colleagues and far-reaching travels further expanded her passion for capturing in photographs the life she observed. She and her husband traveled widely to wild places like the Antarctic, the Galapagos, and Tibet. Most recently she reflected her time in Cuba in a photography book entitled Faces of Cuba.

She is deeply committed to NEST as a place of community and belonging, and the support it provides for learning, friendship, and living independently. She feels honored to serve now on the NEST board.

Marcy MaurerMarcy Maurer
Originally from suburban Washington, DC, Marcy has lived in Maple Leaf for 22 years. Her career has been in health care administration, with 23 years at Group Health Cooperative, and for ten years at Public Health Seattle & King County, overseeing operations of the public health centers in King County. She has a BA in Anthropology and Sociology from William Smith College and a Masters in Health Administration from the University of Washington. In her distant past, she was a VISTA volunteer on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota and a case worker at Denver General Hospital. Marcy’s experience is in implementing strategies through empowered teams. She likes to garden and travel.

Nancy NordquistNancy Nordquist
Nancy is an active NEST member and volunteer. NEST was a meaningful discovery for her in April 2016. Nancy’s mother lived to be 98 with Alzheimer’s and she understands what it is like for families to struggle to find with the right care and resources. Nancy is recently retired from educational publishing, and is looking forward to enthusiastically supporting the growth and successful future of NEST and all of our members.